Romantic semblance and prohibitive presence: Green Forest, My Home as a case-study of Taiwan’s Occidental myth and its discontents
Bi-qi Beatrice LEI
ABSTRACT In postcolonial Taiwan, although Taiwan-centric consciousness is the dominant discourse, it does not exclude but often conforms to transnational capitalism. Nativism and globalism combined form a powerful hegemony. Taiwanese television ‘idol dramas’ endorse the status quo, justifying and propagating desire for the Occident; yet such idealization of the West cannot fully silence skepticism and aversion. This paper examines Green Forest, My Home (2005), to explore the Occidental myth and its discontents. In binary opposition, (quasi-)Westerners are portrayed as rich, beautiful, and refined; locals as malicious, simple, or ludicrous. Race is conflated with one’s socioeconomic and cultural status, one’s language, and one’s moral standing. Frustration and resentment are projected onto the minor roles played by authentic Westerners: authoritative yet antiromantic, they represent the West with negative connotations. The drama’s double-faced portrayal of Westerners betrays a profound ambivalence toward the self and the Western other.
KEYWORDS: Taiwan, Occidental myth, nativism, television idol drama, glocal hegemony, racial romance
Bi-qi Beatrice Lei is an assistant professor of English at National Taiwan University. She received her doctorate from New York University and has published on Sir Philip Sidney, Shakespeare, intercultural theatre, and early modern medicine. She is currently the coordinator of the NTU Shakespeare Forum.